One supposedly safe passage out of Mariupol went straight through minefield


One supposedly safe passage out of the besieged southern port city of Mariupol in Ukraine went straight through a minefield, Daily Mail reported.

Russia offered six routes to allow civilians to leave Mariupol, Kharkiv, Sumy and the capital Kiev.

But its words were exposed as a ‘cynical stunt’ when it emerged some of the routes would lead Ukrainians straight to Russia. The plan was dismissed as ‘immoral and unacceptable’ by Ukraine and as ‘nonsense’ by Britain’s Europe minister, James Cleverly, Daily Mail reported.

But Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces continued to pummel some cities with rockets even after the announcement, while fierce fighting raged in many places, indicating there would be no wider cessation of hostilities, the report said.

Elderly residents there edged their way over a raging river on a rickety plank after the bridge was blown up by the Ukrainian military to slow the Russian advance.

But refugees trying to escape Mariupol were left stranded as the road they were directed towards was mined, Daily Mail reported.

Dominik Stillhart of the International Committee of the Red Cross told BBC: “So far we have seen, unfortunately, only agreements in principle. But they have immediately broken down because they lack precision. They lack the kind of… agreements over times, over roads, over whether people can go out or goods can come in.As soon as they reached the first checkpoint, they realised that the road that was indicated to them was actually mined.”

The previous two offers of safe passage, made over the weekend, both broke down in the face of Russian bombing that killed innocents trying to flee.

Moscow announced the proposed escape routes on Monday after Putin and French President Emmanuel Macron spoke by telephone on Sunday night, with the Kremlin saying the move was taken after a ‘personal request’ by the French president.

But Macron issued a furious response. “All this is not serious, it is moral and political cynicism, which I find intolerable,” he told French TV channel LCI.

Promises to protect civilians only so that they could flee towards Russia were ‘hypocritical’, he said: “I do not know many Ukrainians who want to go to Russia,” Daily Mail reported.

Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk warned Macron he faced being ‘humiliated’ should he attempt any further deals with the Kremlin. Moscow officials expected residents of Kyiv to head for Belarus – from where Russia launched its invasion from the north on February 24 – and for citizens of Kharkiv to go to Russia.

Those who go to Belarus would then be flown to Russia too, the Kremlin said.



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